Actor Len Lesser, best known as Uncle Leo on Seinfeld, dies at the age of 88 yesterday in Burbank because of a pneumonia related cancer. The veteran actor has more than 500 appearances on film, television and the stage during his six-decade career.
Lesser's first love was the stage, and he appeared to critical acclaim in the past few years at Los Angeles' A Noise Within, one of the nation's leading classical repertory theater companies, most recently in Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing! this spring.
"Lesser nearly steals the show several times," wrote Hoyt Hilsman of Backstage.Other stage roles included The Moths at the Mark Taper Forum; Captain Brassbound's Conversion at the Ahmanson; The Legacy at the Old Globe Theatre; and The Birthday Party at ACT. He studied at the American Theatre Wing and with Uta Hagen, Lee Strasberg and Milton Katselas.
The actor is veteran of television since its earliest days, he appeared on hundreds of shows since 1955, including such classics as Get Smart, That Girl, The Munsters, The Monkees, The Rockford Files, Bonanza, Ironside, Kojak, thirtysomething, Caroline in the City, ER, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Quincy, Mad About You, All in the Family, Boy Meets World and Everybody Loves Raymond (in which he had a recurring role as Garvin).
Lesser appeared in 15 episodes as Jerry's Uncle Leo on Seinfeld. His character has the word "Jerry" tattooed on the fingers of his right hand and "Hello" on the fingers of his left one, spelling out his catch phrase.
Survivors include his daughter, Michele Lesser; his son, David Lesser; David's wife, Julie; and his grandchildren Jonathan, Kayla and Mayah.